We spend our time in meetings.
Meetings at work. Meeting friends. Meetings where you present and meetings where you are presented to. Meetings with all sorts of people. Meetings over meals and meetings over coffee.
In fact if you are in business at a management level you likely the spend the majority of your time in meetings. Thus how you spend your time in meetings is how you spend a great deal of your career.
In business there are many who find meetings a waste of time and try to make them as short, small and few as possible.Many try to avoid meeting people and have gate keepers and delay tactics ready to brandish. Some leaders use meetings as ways to ensure discipline and instill fear.
But in a collaborative, fast moving, networked society even with all the social networks and collaborative tools in the world, it is hard to be a manager or a leader by hiding behind a screen dressed in your pyjamas.
Despite my travel around the world, I try to meet every single person who wants to meet me. Many times I do not know who the person is or what their agenda is or if I do many meetings are when I am meeting folks for the first time. Often these unsolicited meetings from the edge end up being the most full filling because they bring in new news, perspectives or just make one feel blessed for what one does.
Regardless of the size of a meeting from a lunch meeting with a person to a presentation to a room of hundreds or a huddle in between I keep the following three questions in mind.
a) Generous: How can I give the person or the people whom I am meeting or presenting to with a gift. A gift of knowledge or insight or a way to see things that they did not have before. Something that makes them believe that it was a good use of their time to be in the meeting.
b) Empathetic: How can I truly understand the other persons perspective and point of view because in doing so I will grow even if I disagree with the perspective or view. If I am presenting how can I make sure that my talk is relevant to the audience and the issues they have in mind and not some boiler plate boiled anew. I find it ironic when speakers talk of relevance and customization and customer or content is king but do not customize or make relevant their content to their audience. Basically they are saying that their time is more valuable than the audience!
c) Energetic: How can I leave the folks in the meeting more energized and feeling better about themselves ? So much of success is attitude, belief and hope. So many meetings leave folks dispirited, brow beaten, scared and worried. One does not have to be all bouncing beans unrealistic but lets be pragmatically enthusiastic if you want progress.
By focussing on giving versus getting you are almost guaranteeing a great meeting because at minimum the other folks leave the room better off and respected. And in feeling that way they become an ally, a supporter and an advocate for you, so you get something out of it.
But actually what happens is much much more. In the course of the meeting once they understand that you are giving without asking, they give in return. Knowledge, Insight, Help, Lots of stuff. Often in themeeting or as a follow up.
Finally because you have treated their time as precious they treat your time as precious.
Don’t think of how to put barriers to meeting people. Don’t think about what you can get. Don’t think through yourself as a filter.
Think about the other person or people.
Give yourself and your time first.
And you will find meetings are valuable, fun, educational and energizing.
Its not about you.
Its about something bigger.’‘